MARY ELLEN HANNIBAL
© Susan Middleton
Citizen Scientist, Speak Butterfly
PRAISE FOR CITIZEN SCIENTIST
The idea that science is something for a caste of high priests to attend to is simply wrong: Science is all around us, and we each can revel in its pleasures and processes. This is a lovely, empowering narrative.”
—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth
ABOUT MARY ELLEN HANNIBAL
We are always writing our own stories, right? My career began in a resolutely bookish way, as a New York magazine editor mostly focused on literary topics. Now rooted in California, for the past 20 or so years I’ve been focused on science and the environment. Back to E.M. Forster: only connect. I consider it my job to understand the science, then translate it for more general readers. This frequently involves contextualizing science within a framework of art and literature. But I'm always trying to find a coherent way to break past the false divides that have so fatally set us on a collision course with nature.
In addition to my books, I write for Bay Nature, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, Nautilus, Science, Anthropocene, and many other publications. Involved for decades with environmental nonprofits, I am currently serving on the board of the San Francisco Botanical Garden, and also in various capacities on behalf of: The Smith College Botanical Garden, Stanford University's Jasper Ridge Biological Reserve, Voices for Biodiversity, the American Geophysical Union, Wildlands Network's Rewilding Leadership Council, and the Commonwealth Club's California Book Awards. Awards and fellowships include the National Society of Science Writer’s Science and Society Award, Stanford University’s Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism, an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship and a Stanford University Media Fellowship. I'm an adjunct professor at the California College of the Arts, in the Design Graduate Program.
Right now I am researching and writing a book about butterflies. A major thread is the life and American times of Vladimir Nabokov, well-known as the author of Lolita, but also a passionate amateur lepidopterist, a citizen scientist. In this book I will attempt to more completely braid together art, science, biography, history, the landscape, and critters. In Citizen Scientist I wrote quite a bit about literature, but in Nabokov I'm looking for (and finding) a deeper resonance. And yes, we'll see if I can wrangle the narrative into something coherent.